The French macarons cookie is beloved in Parisian tea salons and cities all over France. With a variety of color palettes and flavors, macarons are a fashionable cookie for gifting and also popular for baking during holidays and special occasions. It is a delight to bite down into a light and crunchy cookie with either ganache, butter cream or jam filling found in the center.
Photos by Ellen Easton © 2017- All Rights Reserved
Recipe & History collaboration by Ellen Easton & What’s Cooking America © 2017- All Rights Reserved
Adapted from Laduree
Classic French Macarons Cookie Recipe
Over the last several hundred years, the classic French macarons recipe has not altered. Macarons are still made with the simple ingredients of almond flour, fine sugar and whipped egg whites gently folded together and baked into a light airy cookie. Macarons are a very temperamental cookie to bake requiring the ingredients to be measured precisely, the right amount of air is incorporated, the egg whites are not over beaten and the dough is not over mixed. The resulting cookies are worth the effort to master! Ellen Easton is sharing this classic recipe and tips for French macarons and featuring as part of the dessert course in her Springtime Celebration luncheon menu.
Check out more of Ellen Easton’s Tea Travels™ articles and recipes.
History of Macarons:
Early macarons were a plain sweet meringue type cookie with no special fillings. Made from the simple ingredients of almond flour, fine sugar and whipped egg whites folded together and baked into a light airy cookie with a crisp outer shell that melts in your mouth. The origins of macarons are believed to be found in Italy going back as early as the 8th Century when Arabs brought almonds to Italy. The name macaron derives from the Italian word “Macarone” which means fine dough. Legend has is that macarons were later introduced in France during the Renaissance period in the 1600’s when Catherine de Medicini married the future King of France. The nuns of France were the driving force to grow the popularity of macarons all over France. They baked the cookies not only for nutritional value but also as a source to make revenue (along with other baked goods and honey). It was not until the mid 20th century, that famed Parisian bakery, Laduree, began making and selling the sandwich-like Parisian style macaron cookies which were two meringue shells stacked together and filled with a ganache. This style of macaron cookie sandwich is also known in Paris as a Gerbet.
1533: During the Renaissance period, legend has it, that Italian noblewoman, Catherine de Medici’s pastry chefs introduced the macarons to French nobility during the time of her marriage to Henry Duc d’Orleans who later became King Henry II of France in 1547.
1692: First published recipe for Macaron cookies, in Nouvelle instruction pour les confitures, les liqueurs, et les fruits, states that macarons are a combination of sweet almonds, sugar and egg whites.It instructs to flavor the batter with orange blossom water and cover with icing once baked.
1792: In the French city of Nancy, the nuns of Les Dames du Saint Sacrement’s Convent were forbidden from eating meat. Two of the nuns, Sister Marguerite and Sister Marie-Elisabeth started baking and serving macarons at the convent in order to meet the nutritional values needed for their strict diet. When the convent was forced to close during the French Revolution, the two sisters began selling the macaron cookies in order to survive and make money. The sisters became legendary and known as “Les Soeurs Macarons” (The Macarons Sisters). There is a street in Nancy now named after the sisters in their honor.
1930: Famed Parisian tea salon and pastry shop Laduree, opened the first tea salon in Paris upon the wishes of the owners wife to have a fashionable place for woman to meet unescorted and freely discuss “anything and everything” while enjoying tea and sweets. Pierre Desfontaines, second cousin of Louis Ernest Laduree, came up with the idea of joining two macaron shells with ganauche filling as one of the sweets to offer in the tea salon. This macaron style cookie has become one of the symbols of Parisian haute couture ever since.
2005: Macaron Day was created in Paris by la Maison Pierre Herme, which has become globally celebrated each year on March 20th. Participating bakeries around the world offer customers one free macaron sample and a percentage of macaron sales for the day are donated to a local charity.
2007: McDonald’s fast food chain starting selling a box of 6 macarons at their Paris McCafe locations. This has resulted in much disdain and outcry from true macaron lovers as they feel the McCafe’s version do not come close in comparison to a real macaron.
Essential Baking Equipment for Successful Macarons:
Flour Sifter or Fine-Mesh Sieve
Stand Mixer or Hand Mixer
Gel Food Colors
3/8 inch round pastry tip or 1/2 inch round pastry tip
Classic French Macarons Recipe:
Ellen Easton, author of Afternoon Tea~Tips, Terms and Traditions (RED WAGON PRESS), a lifestyle and etiquette industry leader, keynote speaker and product spokesperson, is a hospitality, design, and retail consultant whose clients have included The Waldorf=Astoria, Plaza Hotels, and Bergdorf Goodman. Easton’s family traces their tea roots to the early 1800s, when ancestors first introduced tea plants from India and China to the Colony of Ceylon, thus building one of the largest and best cultivated tea estates on the island.
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AFTERNOON TEA…TIPS, TERMS and TRADITIONS
72 pages of how to’s, 27 photos, history, etiquette and FAQ about afternoon tea, serving styles and more.
TEA TRAVELS™ – FOR THE HOLIDAYS
64 pages, 21 color photos. A complete holiday menu includes 25 easy to prepare recipes; theme teas, decorating & gift ideas; invitation template and secret sources.
The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets, author Sidney Mintz, 2015, published by Oxford University Press
Luxos.com, A Brief History of Laduree: Exclusive Interview, David Holder talks about the history of this remarkable success story.
BudgetTravel, Paris: Macarons at McDonalds? article by Meg Zimbeck, 10/03/2012
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